Kaiwhakakī Waka Rererangi
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Aircraft refuellers fill aircraft with fuel at airports.
Aircraft refuellers at entry level usually earn
$55K-$65K per year
Aircraft refuellers with experience usually earn
$65K-$75K per year
Source: Air BP, 2016.
Entry-level aircraft refuellers typically earn between $55,000 and $65,000 a year. This includes base salary as well as an allowance for working extra shifts.
With experience, aircraft refuellers can earn up to $75,000.
Source: Air BP, 2016.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Aircraft refuellers may do some or all of the following:
- follow schedules that tell you what aircraft you will be refuelling for the day and what time the aircraft will arrive
- check and maintain the vehicles that transport fuel
- fill aircraft with fuel from vehicles
- regularly check fuels for contaminants such as water
- observe strict safety requirements when filling aircraft and transporting fuel
- communicate with pilots and airport ground crew.
Skills and knowledge
Aircraft refuellers need to have:
- a range of practical and maintenance skills related to refuelling equipment
- experience using fuel tools, equipment and machinery
- knowledge of types of fuel and their properties
- knowledge of safety rules and regulations that apply when working at an airport and driving on the tarmac and runways.
- usually work eight to 12-hour shifts, and are often on call
- work at airports on the tarmac and runways, and in airport terminal buildings, hangars and freight buildings
- work in most weather conditions, and often in noisy, hazardous situations
- travel locally between airports and bulk oil depots.
What's the job really like?
Shifts mean Paul can balance work and play
Not many people can play golf in the middle of the week, says aircraft refueller Paul Kingham. But he can.
"The shift patterns in this job are good: we do five days on and three off, for four weeks; then four on, four off for three weeks. It's all about quality of life and I get to work and do other things like golf, tennis, water-skiing, or going to the gym."
It pays to keep your cool and concentrate
"If everything goes to schedule there's no panic," says Paul. "But, when there's a 10-plane backlog to clear, it pays to keep a cool head. You can't get stressed when people are saying, 'Where's my fuel?' You just have to say, 'Hold on mate, we can only do one job at a time,' because there are no shortcuts. You have to keep cool because it's when you start panicking that you can stuff up."
The job can be repetitive, and that's another reason mistakes can happen. "The repetitive nature of the job can be a trap, because something can go wrong if you get blasé. You need to put a certain amount of fuel in a plane, and if you're thinking about what you're going to do on Saturday night you could put too much in. You have to keep your mind on the task."
What it takes to be an aircraft refueller – 1.44 mins. (Video courtesy of the Royal NZ Air Force)
We conduct fuel quality control testing, maintenance tasking on our vehicles before any fuel is issued to aircraft and the receipting of fault fuel into our storage tanks.
My day-to-day tasking involves stock control of all of our fuels. So I look after the issuing in and out of our vault storage tanks. Also I look after our heavy fleet vehicles.
We are trained in all of our licences, be it trucks, forklifts, things of like. All the skills that I’ve learned within the fuel section are transferable outside the military. We have BP-recognised qualifications as well as transport qualifications for heavy vehicles.
The reason I chose aviation refueller as a trade is it is quite a unique trade, we do a lot of outdoors work away from base. You also get to drive many different vehicle types. So it was quite appealing to me.
I think as an aviation refueller you need to be independent but be able to work in a team environment. There are times when you will be sent off from base, by yourself into the field and you need to conduct tasking safely and effectively.
In my 10 years in the Air Force, I have done a three-month stint down in Antarctica, I’ve done a six-month stint in Sinai, and then another three-month stint in Sinai, and I’ve done a six-month stint in Afghanistan. Being in Afghanistan was a great experience for me, and I was in charge of looking after all the fuels and generators and aircraft flying through Ba’ini.
To become an aircraft refueller you need:
- a clean Class 4 or 5 heavy vehicle full driver's licence
- a D endorsement on your driver's licence for carrying hazardous goods
- to pass a medical test.
Because aircraft refuellers work at airports they need to have security clearance, so they must not have any criminal convictions.
Once employed, aircraft refuellers must attend at least six weeks on-the-job training. During this time they learn about fuel quality sampling, the correct amounts of fuel for specific aircraft, and fire and emergency drills.
- New Zealand Transport Agency website - getting a heavy vehicle licence
- New Zealand Transport Agency website - information on D endorsements (for carrying dangerous goods)
NCEA Level 2 with numeracy and literacy is required to become an aircraft refueller.
Aircraft refuellers need to be:
- motivated, responsible and reliable
- quick-thinking and able to make good judgements
- able to work well under pressure
- accurate, methodical and patient in their work
- situationally aware
- good at communicating.
Driving a truck for an oil company is a common path to getting a job as an aircraft refueller.
Useful experience for aircraft refuellers also includes:
- a mechanical background
- tanker or truck-driving experience
- experience in handling chemicals, fuels and dangerous goods.
Aircraft refuellers need to have a good level of fitness and strength, because they work with hoses that weigh between 10 and 15 kilograms.
Aircraft refuellers also need to be in good health, without any heart conditions. They are required to pass an annual medical examination.Check out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
Low turnover of aircraft refuellers
Most aircraft refuellers stay in the job until they retire so there is low staff turnover. Few new positions are created, because although the tourism industry is growing, aircraft are becoming more fuel efficient so the number of refuellers remains stable.
Best opportunities in larger airports
The best opportunities for work are in Auckland and Wellington at the larger airports. Demand for aircraft refuellers at regional airports has declined, as aircraft are now more fuel efficient and Air New Zealand has removed some of its regional flights from these smaller airports.
Approaching employers directly gives you best chance
Most aircraft refuellers work for oil companies. Because there are so few positions, your best chance of getting work is to contact oil companies directly to register your interest.
Many aircraft refuellers start out as tanker truck drivers for a fuel company before moving into aircraft refuelling.
Oil companies the main employers of aircraft refuellers
Most aircraft refuellers work at international airports for large oil companies such as:
- Z Energy
- Air BP
- Mobil Oil New Zealand.
Aircraft refuellers at regional airports work for small private companies.
Aircraft refuellers are also employed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
- Careers New Zealand research, 2016.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Munro, A, marketing manager (north), Air BP, Careers New Zealand interview, June 2016.
Progression and specialisations
Aircraft refuellers may progress to work in supervisory or managerial roles, which can involve training new aircraft refuellers and doing administrative work. They may also move into maintenance roles.
Last updated 19 August 2017